Monday, April 6, 2009 – 7:00 p.m.
Attendance: Mayor Larry McMahon, Mayor Pro Tem James Lilly, Commissioners Beverly Johnson, Alphonzo Rush, Henry Thompson, Sr., Harold Thompson, Town Administrator Dwight Smith, Town Clerk Pam Lisenby, Police Chief Randy Smith, Zoning Officer Virgil Hinson
Absent: Director of Field Operations Mike Thompson, Fire Chief Tim Huneycutt
The regular monthly meeting of the Norwood Town Council was held on Monday, April 6, 2009 at the Norwood Town Hall. Mayor Larry McMahon called the meeting to order at 6:58 p.m., welcomed the visitors and prayed.
Under Public Concerns, the following person spoke:
Robert Jordan stated he was a Town of Norwood employee and was present to discuss the Norwood Personnel Policy, adding he felt there were some “problems and gray areas” in the policy that were causing problems for him and fellow employees. Jordan stated that the Personnel Policy said the Town Council made policy; therefore, he felt his complaints should come before them.
Administrator Smith stated to Jordan that personnel must be discussed in a closed session, but that Jordan could not be present at a closed session of the Board. Smith told Jordan his issues should come to the Town Administrator who would then take them to the Board.
Mayor McMahon asked if Mike Thompson was aware of this, to which Jordan answered, “Yes”.
Mayor McMahon stated to Jordan that a grievance must first be filed with the Clerk, adding that the Clerk would then pass it on to the Town Administrator who would bring it before the Town Council.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked Jordan if his issues were with other personnel or with the policy. Jordan answered, “It’s about the policy”.
Jordan stated he would appreciate it if he could meet with more than one person at a time. Jordan was told this would be done.
Mayor McMahon called for a motion to accept the Consent Agenda as follows:
1) The minutes of the March 2, 2009 regular meeting of the Norwood Town Council were approved on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lilly, and passed 5-0.
2) The minutes of the March 9, 2009 special meeting of the Norwood Town Council were approved on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lilly, and passed 5-0.
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3) A budget update was accepted on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lilly, and passed 5-0.
4) A treasurer’s report was accepted on a motion by Commissioner Henry Thompson, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lilly, and passed 5-0.
Mayor McMahon called for a motion to enter a public hearing to discuss the zoning of Edgewater South. Commissioner Henry Thompson so moved, seconded by Commissioner Rush. The motion passed 5-0.
AGENDA ITEM #1 – PUBLIC HEARING – ZONING OF EDGEWATER SOUTH
Zoning Officer Virgil Hinson stated a request from the Norwood Planning Office to rezone the newly annexed Edgewater South property as R-20, adding that the property was currently zoned R-20 under Stanly County zoning.
Lucy Snuggs of Randall’s Church Road asked, “What is the change from R-20 to R-20?”
Administrator Smith explained that the property was currently zoned R-20 under County zoning and should be changed to R-20 under Town of Norwood zoning. Smith added both were residential, but there may be a few uses allowed in County R-20 zoning that would not be allowed in Town R-20 zoning.
Ms. Snuggs asked, “Is this area all the way on the left of the road going down to Randall’s Church?”
Zoning Officer Hinson answered, “Yes. It starts at Snuggs Ridge Road and goes to Randall’s Ferry.”
Ms. Snuggs asked if the nursery would have to be closed. Administrator Smith answered that it was a pre-existing condition, could not be enlarged, and, if closed for a year, could not be re-opened.
Thomas Beaumont asked, “Will houses be included?” Administrator Smith answered, “They are not in the town limits”.
Administrator Smith said the State Statutes required a zoning designation of annexed property within a certain amount of time after annexation—even if the zoning was to remain the same.
Mary Lou Campbell asked, “Is this the same zoning as Edgewater?” Administrator Smith answered, “Yes.”
With no further public comment, Mayor McMahon called for a motion to close the public hearing and re-enter regular session. Commissioner Henry Thompson so moved, seconded by Commissioner Harold Thompson. The motion passed 5-0.
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Mayor McMahon then called for a motion to enter a public hearing to discuss a zoning request by Lee Farmer. Commissioner Johnson so moved, seconded by Commissioner Rush. The motion passed 5-0.
AGENDA ITEM #2 – PUBLIC HEARING – ZONING – LEE FARMER
Zoning Officer Hinson explained that Lee Farmer was requesting a rezoning of six acres of land (three tracts—parcels 656403117904, 656403117785 and 656403125190) on the north side of Mary Branch Road and the east side of Lawnwood Drive from Residential-Agricultural (R-A) to General Business (GB) in order to sell the property to a person who wanted to start a business there.
Kelly Morris of Lawnwood Drive stated he lived right beside the area proposed to be rezoned, adding he “wouldn’t want to tell a man how he could use his land”, but had concerns for his children and bird dogs.
Liz Morris of Lawnwood Drive asked if Farmer was just wanting to increase the marketability of the land. Zoning Officer Hinson said, “Yes”.
Liz Morris asked if there was a restriction as to what the business could be. Mayor McMahon answered, “It could be a pigpen”.
Kelly Morris said he would not mind a pigpen, adding “So, basically, he could put anything there? A liquor store?”
Administrator Smith answered, “Yes”. Mayor McMahon added, “Business would have to pick up.”
With no further public comment, Mayor McMahon called for a motion to close the public hearing and return to regular session. Commissioner Rush so moved, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lilly. The motion passed 5-0.
Back in regular session, Mayor McMahon asked if there was any action on the first public hearing regarding the zoning of Edgewater South.
Commissioner Johnson made a motion to zone the area known as Edgewater South as R-20 under Town of Norwood zoning regulations. Commissioner Henry Thompson seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.
Mayor McMahon then asked if there was any action on the second public hearing regarding Lee Farmer’s request to rezone the above-described property. Commissioner Rush made a motion to re-zone the described land from Residential-Agricultural (R-A) to General Business (GB). Commissioner Henry Thompson seconded the motion and it passed 4-1 with Commissioner Johnson casting the negative vote.
AGENDA ITEM #3 – ZONING OF 410 NORTH MAIN STREET
Administrator Smith reminded Board members that a public hearing was held at the March 2 meeting for a zoning request to change the property located at 410 North Main Street from
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General Business to Conditional Zoning and a Conditional Use Permit. Smith stated that Board members had several concerns that needed clarification.
Mayor McMahon stated that since that time, a boat had burned up in front of the house.
Zoning Officer Hinson stated that the Board had wanted a building inspector to check out the property so the Town would not have any liability issues. Hinson said he had been informed that the Inspections department must have a zoning compliance letter before a building permit could be issued for inspection. Hinson added that conditions could be listed on the conditional use permit and fines could be assessed if the owner did not abide by the conditions.
Hinson stated that Kim Tobias, property owner, was working on another access.
Hinson recommended to the Board that a conditional use permit be issued with the conditions deemed necessary.
Commissioner Rush stated that parking was a problem.
Mayor Pro Tem Lilly asked if more conditions could be added at a later date. Both Zoning Officer Hinson and Administrator Smith said all conditions must be listed on the original conditional use permit and none could be added later.
Commissioner Rush stated that, in all fairness to Kim Tobias, the Board should tell him some of the conditions now so that he could be working on them.
Commissioner Johnson stated that parking was also her concern.
Mayor McMahon asked Zoning Officer Hinson how many parking spaces Tobias had to provide. Hinson answered, “two spaces per unit”.
Commissioner Rush stated there were spaces downstairs (carport).
Mayor McMahon asked if there was room in front for two cars to park straight in. Kim Tobias stated there was plenty of room.
Commissioner Rush stated the garage could be considered as parking.
Commissioner Harold Thompson stated he had two concerns—parking and house exits.
Kim Tobias said he was planning another access, but could not start until the zoning was done.
Mayor Pro Tem Lilly made a motion to defer consideration of the matter until the next Board meeting. Commissioner Rush seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.
AGENDA ITEM #4 – EASTOVER PUMP STATION
Administrator Smith reminded Board members that a moratorium had been placed on the Eastover Pump Station by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
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(NCDENR) and that Norwood was trying to get things repaired so the moratorium could be lifted.
Smith said a DENR official had suggested a pump and tank to hold the sewer overflows which would then be released slowly back into the system after the crisis had subsided. Smith said that had been done at a cost of $27,000 and the system was working fine except for a misjudgment on the amount of sewer in the overflows (estimated at 7,000-20,000 gallons—actually much more).
Smith said DENR officials had come to Norwood to look at the situation because a Norwood citizen had made them aware of it. Smith stated that he and Mike Thompson met with the officials at Eastover Pump Station and it was decided to use the existing pump and install a new six-inch sewer line from Eastover to a manhole on Allenton Street on gravity sewer.
Smith said this needed to be done in order to get the permit to build the Lake Shore pump station. Smith added this would cost less than $40,000 and he planned to go ahead with it. He stated he knew Board members would like to see Eastover Pump Station “fixed right”, but there was too much money involved. Smith added that the six-inch force main was a part of the overall rebuilding plan of Eastover Pump Station anyway.
Administrator Smith reminded Board members they had been awarded a $500,000 hard match grant for Eastover Pump Station.
Mayor McMahon asked if this $40,000 would activate the grant. Administrator Smith said, “No.”
Engineer Stephen Chambers was present at the meeting and reminded Board members that he had done a sewer evaluation study for Eastover Pump Station in 2005. Chambers distributed maps showing Eastover Pump Station and lines, stating it would cost 1.5 million dollars to complete the whole project. He stated the grant awarded was a $497,000 hard match grant.
Chambers said the issue at hand was getting NCDENR to “back off”, adding that all DENR was interested in was seeing the overflows stopped. Chambers said he guessed the tank was a “pretty good idea”, stressing that it was DENR’s idea.
Chambers re-emphasized Administrator Smith’s prior comment that the six-inch force main was in the main project.
Administrator Smith stated the Board wanted to find out from Chambers what could be done, other than doing the whole project, to stop the overflows at Eastover.
Chambers said the minimum would be to do the pump station and force main first.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked how much this would cost. Chambers said a new pump station would cost $175,000 and the force main would be $44,000 for a total of $219,000.
Administrator Smith said he was working on some lease-purchases now and could work this in. Chambers said the fast track application for the force main was sent in last week.
Administrator Smith asked Chambers if he was suggesting that Norwood continue with the force
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main and connect to an existing pump.
Chambers said he would install the force main at $44,000 with Town funds to appease DENR, then sign the Rural Center contract when it comes in and “carve out” the project into pieces.
Administrator Smith asked Chambers to present a schedule of repairs at the next Board meeting. Chambers said he would have this ready by then.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if the tank at Eastover would still be used after the proposed repairs. Chambers said the tank should probably be sold at that point.
Administrator Smith stated that most of the money spent was on the pumps which could be used.
Mayor Pro Tem Lilly made a motion to go ahead with the force main project at Eastover. Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.
AGENDA ITEM #5 – REFINANCING THE LEASE-PURCHASE LOAN FROM BANK OF STANLY
Administrator Smith stated that negotiations had been done with Bank of Stanly to refinance the existing lease-purchase loan ($1.3 million remaining) at an interest rate of 3.8% (present rate – 5.8%).
Smith added that the new lease-purchase for the Lake Shore pump station was going to be between 3.8% and 4.02%.
Smith stated this had to go before the loan committee, but Mike Harwood of Bank of Stanly felt comfortable about it.
AGENDA ITEM #6 – LAKE SHORE/BERRY HILL/LAKE HEAD SEWER
Administrator Smith said the first addendum of the project would be the Lake Shore pump station which would accept sewer from both Edgewater and the Lake Shore area at an approximate cost of $675,800. The second addendum, stated Smith, would involve collecting sewer on Lake Head Road and the third addendum would cover Berry Hill Drive. Smith said the approximate cost of the second and third addendums would be $1,950,000.
Smith added that the work could be done 10-30% cheaper now than when the project was designed and that he was working with the Local Government Commission and three banks to get bids.
Smith stated it was critical to find out what to do at Eastover Pump Station so that these funds could be included in the money to be borrowed.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if there would be a permitting process for each phase.
Administrator Smith said there would be problems with environmental sensitivity, decant water going into the South Strand pump station, and the Anchor Road pump station. Smith said DENR wanted the pump upgraded at Anchor Road pump station and a bigger line to carry more sewer.
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Smith said that Bo Noble of Koonce, Noble & Associates said he thought Norwood could get stimulus money for this, but Administrator Smith said he doubted this.
Commissioner Harold Thompson asked if the C&A pump station would need to be upgraded for the line on Indian Mound Road. Administrator Smith said that DENR was saying C&A pump station was “OK”.
AGENDA ITEM #7 – ARBOR DAY
Administrator Smith presented a proposed Arbor Day schedule. He stated that with the fossil exhibits in Town Hall, there could be no bathroom use in Town Hall. He added that a privacy fence would be put up on the side of the Town Hall building for the portable bathrooms.
Smith said there would be no insert in THE STANLY NEWS & PRESS this year, but that Matt Irvin was doing some articles and would have a full sheet page in the newspaper.
Matt Irvin interjected that he was placing posters in businesses throughout the county.
Board members discussed possible places band members could use to change clothes, etc. It was suggested that Chester Lowder’s cabin off Fork Road be used.
AGENDA ITEM #8 – PREDICTION FOR 2009/2010 BUDGET REVENUES
Administrator Smith gave some revenue predictions for the 2009/2010 budget, stating the predictions were “poor”. He stated local sales tax would be down 3-5%, Powell Bill about the same as last year, utility franchise tax up ½-1%, natural gas excise tax remaining the same or declining by 1%, and beer and wine tax up 3-5%.
Smith said no appraisal values had been received from the Stanly County Tax Assessor yet.
Smith stated that he and Clerk Lisenby planned to work on the budget next week and set up some lunch meetings with the Board to discuss.
Smith said it was being predicted that the budget would be flat for two years. Smith added the Board might need to consider stopping some services. Smith said he felt collecting property taxes might be harder next year than this year.
Commissioner Harold Thompson said he was afraid the Local Government Commission would try to come in and set water and sewer rates for Norwood to generate needed revenues.
Administrator Smith said the water and sewer rates in Norwood would have to go up, adding that sewer needed to be 110-120% of water. Smith said Norwood had old water lines that were going to have to be replaced at some point.
Commissioner Rush asked about signs to slow traffic on Price Street at the Head Start building, adding that he appreciated the police department patrolling the area more.
Commissioner Rush asked if any street patching had been done. Smith said the only place was a
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pothole on Acorn Acres Road because of so many complaints.
Commissioner Johnson stated she had gotten some complaints about letting a lot of people in town not clean up around homes—“letting things slide”.
Commissioner Harold Thompson stated he had noticed a lot of houses on West Whitley Street with many vehicles in the yards. Administrator Smith stated he was already working with a Smith man on West Whitley about this problem.
Commissioner Harold Thompson, speaking on behalf of the Rocky River RPO, stated that the Legislature was talking in Raleigh again about giving State roads within municipalities to the towns and cities to maintain. Thompson said Dana Stoogenke would send an e-mail to all the municipalities asking them to write letters stating they do not have the funds to keep up their roads.
Commissioner Harold Thompson stated that Air Quality had submitted their report to EPA who had until November to respond. Thompson said the report asked that Stanly and Anson Counties not be pulled into the attainment area. Thompson stated he had spoken with Kissell and his assistant at breakfast and they were not aware of this. Thompson said he asked the Air Quality speaker if there was anything Stanly and Anson Counties could do to get a decision overturned. Thompson told of another area of the state where two counties were pulled in and those people met with a representative and senator in Raleigh who met with the EPA and the decision was overturned.
Mayor Pro Tem Lilly asked if the Fire Department knew there was a Town Board meeting tonight. Administrator Smith said he thought they did, adding that Fire Chief Tim Huneycutt was working at a convenience store at night.
Administrator Smith presented the following items to the Board:
1) Smith presented a letter he had written to the Local Government Commission regarding the lease-purchase.
2) Smith presented copies of e-mails to Stephen Chambers and Robbie Cohen about a bore at the Edgewater project, stating the bill for the bore had been sent to Norwood for payment. Smith said, according to the plans Chambers had drawn, Norwood did not pick up the sewer line until it got to the other side of the road. Smith said Robbie Cohen called about this bore after it was done. Smith added that if the bids came in as Chambers thought, there would be money left over and this bill could be paid. Smith said he would tell Robbie Cohen that this bill could not be paid until Norwood could see if there was money left over. Smith stated that he had informed Cohen that all bills had to be cleared through Chambers first.
3) Smith said Norwood needed to recommend a County representative for the ABC Board. Commissioner Johnson made a motion to continue with Darrell Smith. Commissioner Henry Thompson seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.
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4) The Fork Farm Horse Trials will begin the second weekend of activities this Saturday. Smith said he had parking passes.
5) Approval is still being sought for the bridge in the sidewalk project to Mary Branch Road.
6) The contract with David Hartigan to administer the Rural Development Grant was not discussed.
7) A RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT for the Carolina Thread Trail was presented for review. Commissioner Rush made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Johnson, to authorize Mayor McMahon to sign the document which stated that Norwood would support the Carolina Thread Trail and commit in concept to working with neighboring communities and with the Carolina Thread Trail to plan, design and build a system of trails that would connect communities, people and special regional points of interest for years to come. The motion passed 5-0. A copy of the Resolution of Support is attached to these minutes and made a part thereof.
8) Smith discussed community garden information brought in by Commissioner Johnson, stating it was a “really good idea” but that Norwood did not have time to administer it as a town. Smith said there was some land at the lower end of Darrell Almond Park on the town side of the creek that would work well, but some group needed to take on the project. It was suggested that this information be placed in the newsletter to see if there was any interest.
9) Smith asked if anyone could go to Statesville on 4/8/09 for an NCDOT meeting. Mayor McMahon said he would go.
10) Joe McLeod of Duke Energy has called several times regarding street lights in the Edgewater subdivision. Existing town street lights are 750–1,000 feet apart, but they will be 200-300 feet apart in Edgewater. Smith asked Board members how much the Town wanted to pay on these Edgewater lights.
Commissioner Harold Thompson stated he would like to have more lights around the walking trail at Darrell Almond Park when the Town could afford them.
Smith stated that Norwood would recover the Edgewater street light money in utility franchise fees when enough development was done in 7-8 years.
Commissioner Harold Thompson suggested paying for 30% of the street lights at Edgewater.
Smith stated he thought the Town should pay for at least 50% of the street lights.
It was suggested that Administrator Smith work out the arrangements with Robbie Cohen and report back to the Board.
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11) The Norwood Methodist Circuit parsonage is in need of a sewer tap and pump (out-of- town cost - $6,000). Smith asked Board members if they wished to offer a discount to churches on water and sewer taps.
After some discussion, Commissioner Rush made a motion to offer all churches 50% discounts on taps. Commissioner Henry Thompson seconded the motion and it passed 5- 0.
12) Smith said the Town newsletter is “read very sparingly” and, although it is no trouble to prepare, the cost per quarterly publication is approximately $1,000. Smith asked Board members if they would like to discontinue the newsletter since the information could now be put on the website.
Commissioner Harold Thompson stated he was not opposed to eliminating the newsletter, but that Matt Irvin must get the information in order to post it on the website.
It was decided to do one more hard copy newsletter with a statement that anyone wishing to continue to receive a hard copy should contact Town Hall.
13) A master of ceremonies will still be needed for Arbor Day – Saturday only. Administrator Smith was authorized to negotiate with Marty Walters on a price.
With no further business to discuss, Mayor McMahon called for a motion to close the meeting at 9:02 p.m. Commissioner Johnson so moved, seconded by Commissioner Rush. The motion passed 5-0.
LARRY McMAHON, Mayor
PAM LISENBY, Clerk